Machine Gun Kelly’s unique aesthetic is a consequence of his environment growing up.

MGK — real name Colson Baker — discusses his upbringing and eventual celebrity in a new interview for the August 2021 issue of GQ. Kelly’s mother left the family when he was young, and his dad, who passed away in July 2020, struggled with alcohol. A young Kelly turned to pop culture for guidance.

“I had to be whatever I was seeing on TV,” the musician says. “I will never forget when I saw ‘American Gangster’ in theatres, with Denzel Washington. I immediately went to my boss… I borrowed his fur coat and I borrowed his suit… and swore to God that I was Frank Lucas.”

“A week later I would see Travis Barker in a music video and I would be in a T-shirt with a purple tie over it and some baggy JNCO jeans.”

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“You’ve got to understand, those things came from me being by myself and having no guidance,” he says. “My guidance came from who was talking to me in my headphones and who I was watching on TV. The neighbourhoods I was hanging in, the people I was around, those were my influences, those were my parents, those were my guidances.”

MGK, 31, has gone through large swings in his style — both musically and aesthetically — over the last few years. He credits the change to his relationship with Megan Fox.

“This was partly to do with the costumes,” he explains. “I still was trying to be somebody else, and now I’m kind of like, ‘I’ve found who I am.’ It took me having a partner to realize that who I am on the red carpet is also who I am in the house now.”

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To that point, Kelly is living out his teenage fantasy.

“You know what the dream was? It was exactly what happened to me [this weekend], which was to go to an award show, shut down the carpet, go onstage, accept an award,” Baker says, a few days after being crowned Top Rock Artist at the Billboard Music Awards.

“I saw a British GQ article that came out this morning that basically was like, ‘Despite the fact that BTS was there, the Weeknd was there, Drake was there, the talk of the show was [us],’” he says of his and Fox’s attendance.

Read “High School Reunion With Machine Gun Kelly and Wesley Lowery” by Wesley Lowery in GQ’s August issue.